We all change and grow and mature over the years, and it’s been interesting for me to gauge my own development as a mother, in terms of experiencing the pregnancy-birth process a number of times. Being pregnant for so long has allowed me time to ponder and practice alternate approaches to a season that is often wrought with struggle.
These are some very personal discoveries that are in no way a judgment for those who have had different experiences, they are simply the journey for me so far, and I share these thoughts in a spirit of hope that they may encourage you.
So, here are 8 reasons my 10th pregnancy has been so much better than my first!
1. Over the past 14 years I have developed a much deeper understanding of the power of my words. In my earlier pregnancies, I was often quick to share my discomfort and pain with sympathetic listeners; it became almost a meditation of sorts. What I didn’t realize was that it kept my own focus on my pain. My world became small and oriented mainly around a pity-party for one. When I began to grasp that truly “death and life are in the power of the tongue” it totally transformed my relationship with pain; the less I waxed eloquent about my suffering, the more it began to diminish in my experience. Taming my own tongue was a path to much greater peace in pregnancy.
2. It’s taken years to develop this discipline, but I have learned to immediately rebuke pregnancy/baby-related fear, and actively shut down negative thoughts as soon as they pop up. I believe that the enemy wants to preoccupy us with every fearful thing so that we will not enjoy the awesome work that we are a part of; he desires to rob the entire pregnancy/birth process of it’s joy, it’s profundity, and it’s power. I just don’t play his game anymore.
3. I have become very mindful to avoid reading and listening to tragic pregnancy/birth stories while I am pregnant, thus not entering deeply into the stress and fear that the enemy would like to ignite within my heart. I am quick to remove myself from a conversation where someone is telling me all the things that *could* go wrong, etc. I don’t even watch movies that promote our cultural narratives of pain-filled labor (screaming, out-of-control women losing their minds!), because in this special season, I want my heart and mind to be set apart, I want to be transformed in my thinking, I want to be a vessel of peace for my developing child. Related to this, I do not share “horror” stories or negative birth stories with pregnant women; they are tender and vulnerable in this unique season, and, I believe, deserving of our deepest care.
4. Meditation on Scripture pertaining to motherhood, children, God’s leading, health, and healing has brought me great peace. As I enter into deeper relationship with Him I find more peace and stillness that lets my body and mind rest. Grasping the outrageous inheritance connected to my new identity in Christ has freed me profoundly.
5. I believe that pregnancy and labour are a unique kind of “work” given to women as an opportunity to grow and “upgrade” in the ways of the Kingdom. Every pregnancy, every child has launched me into new territory as a woman and as a child of God. Increasingly, I have approached my pregnancies as an honour and a great stewardship, rather than a nine-month trial with a prize at the end. There’s even a Proverb that reminds us that the reward for work is more work; God loves to reveal Himself to us through our productive labor! This fuels me in a crazy way; I just can’t wait to see what God is going to do next… and He’s even letting me in on the fun!
6. I have learned to replace fear and anxiety with expectation, hope, and joy. I speak aloud blessings to my baby, I speak to my body, reminding it how it was designed for this awesome work; I even make special worship mixes that speak directly to my “expectant” heart and sing long with abandon. Anticipating God’s work on my behalf frees me to enjoy the journey.
7. Earlier this year I was struggling to reconcile the great lack of fasting (for stretches of time, from food) in my life due to the constant flow of nursing/pregnancy that has been the course for me over the last many years. I wondered if I was missing out on new revelation and blessing, because this has not been a discipline I had practiced much. One day, the Father reminded me that the disciples did not fast when Jesus was with them either! I was reminded that these seasons of pregnancy are times of intimate visitation with the Lord, where He is actively knitting life within me and abiding with me in a special way. The fasting I long to engage in is more about fasting from my comfort than food right now. When I realized this, I wanted to suck the greatest measure of significance out of this time, knowing the Lord is with me, gently leading me.
8. Over the last couple of years, I have also had a growing awareness of God’s love of life and His purposes for pregnancy and delivery, and that they can be a source of delight and not pain. As I’ve allowed my heart to explore the possibilities of pain-free birth, not from a place of presumption, but from a place of faith, I have found that the duration and pressure of my labours have dramatically decreased. Though I’ve not yet reached an absolutely “pain free” status in my labours, I have come very close. I’m not afraid to explore this area, because I believe that it’s a gift available to God’s children. Strangely enough, a couple of months before this little one inside of me was conceived, I had an overwhelming urge to experience the crowning climax of labor again… to experience again the gritty work of releasing a new life from within to the wonder of the outside world. It was a very unusual desire, but one that has prompted me to consider that even labor itself is laced with mysteries and possibilities outside of the pain and drama that we have been programmed to expect in our culture.
So, there you have it… Ten pregnancies have opened new experiences and expectations for me in this area! May you be blessed and encouraged as you chart new territory in these areas as well. I’d love to hear about your own growth in this area!